In regards to the lessons we can take away from the COVID-19 pandemic, I argue that change does not always need a powerful leader per say. Alhadad et al. (2015) discusses the idea that long term change cannot be sustainable without powerful leaders (p. 243). I believe what we are seeing right now, an unprecedented move to virtual learning, is not the work of a handful of powerful leaders but the work of ordinary people rising to the occasion. Many small community leaders such as teachers and professors have been obligated to master (or fumble with) the skills to teach online. They have been the pioneers for the future generations but they are not influential important people with big titles, they are ordinary day-to-day citizens who have reshaped the reality of learning.
The strategic change method which best aligns to my own approach to leading in a digital learning environment would have to be Galpin’s (1996) Wheel Method because it focuses on involving people in the change process. He states that most organizational change fails when people are not taken into consideration (p. 247). An example of this for me would be when the pandemic hit and the government tried to implement online learning for children fairly quickly. Eventually we reached a new normal but students in the meantime missed out on learning some foundational skills. The truth was that the government wanted a solution but the reality was teachers, parents, and students were not capable of implementing the change the government was requiring. The result is a generation of children who lost most or all of one year of learning due to lack of access to technology, lack of access to a teacher, or lack of access to support services just to name a few. When considering initiating change in the future I think it’s really important to take into consideration if the change is occurring as a reaction to the changing environment or as a preventative measure for a predictable change in the future. The pandemic was predictable and children, parents, and teachers should have been given drills on what to do for WHEN it eventually occurred. We have earthquake drills, we have tsunami drills, and fire drills. Why were we left to react?
One of our readings this week (the link won’t open now to give you the author’s name but it was chapter 3 of the second link for Unit 2) talked about how families go through a few different stages when they lose a loved one to cancer. The stages are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. The author hypothesizes that the loss of a loved one is comparable to any major change in an organization and, much like the process of grief, people react in the following four stages to change: denial, resistance, adaptation, and involvement (p.5 Ch. 3 link). I think any good leader should be able to recognize these four stages in order to best manage and implement the desired change. Unfortunately, as most of us appear to be online educators, we face some unique challenges in managing change in the digital environment. For one, our interface inherently creates a virtual space where we cannot directly observe how our students or employees react to the change. We only have a minimal amount of interaction which allows us to see body language, hear voice intonation, or pick up on mood. We are working in an online world which lacks all the senses. We literally cannot get a sense of how people or students are doing except for reading messages, GIFS, or emojis :). This is a huge challenge that needs to be overcome with new and better technology. We may not be getting the desired response from students and without all the senses one can only guess if the student is resisting or adapting to a change.
Al-Haddad, S., & Kotnour, T. (2015). Integrating the organizational change literature: a model for successful change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 28(2), 234-262.
Chapter 3 of https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/docview/1671991084/6DCA9DF395BB4682PQ/5